You Have Only One Opportunity to Close

Posted by Jack Derby on Tue, Nov 24, 2015


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Tags: sales, sales planning, selling, selling skills

Do You Believe that Luck Counts in Sales?

Posted by Jack Derby on Fri, Nov 20, 2015
Earlier, I wrote a blog about "Luck & Sales".  

No Such Thing as Luck in Sales

As we now face down the critical, last six weeks of the year, it's important for all of us as Sales Warriors to remember that... There is no such thing as luck in the profession of Sales.

The Patriots kick in the last six seconds last Sunday had nothing to do with luck.

That last precision march down the field ending in the perfectly-placed 54 yard kick was all about consistent and dedicated training, nerves of steel and a unrelenting drive of the team to win.

In the world of Sales, orders will be won and lost during these last 22 days of the year solely on the basis of our skills training, our prepping and working on the weekends, our consistent use of every account management and planning tactic that we currently have in our toolboxes, and finally on utilizing every possible connection we have in our individual networks.  Classic blocking and tackling in the game of Sales!  

Over the next 22 days, this is when everything must come together perfectly

  • All the training, the videos and the practice sessions
  • All the value propositions and the rest of your marketing tools 
  • All the embedded sales process tools and their related technologies

Luck would be nice, but it ain't gonna happen.

Nothing but experienced skills, detailed account plans, full force time-management practice and 12 hour days. Luck would be nice, but it ain't gonna happen.  My experience is that luck actually never happens when you need it, which is why we call orders that surprise you and fall out of nowwhere, "Bluebirds". They come and go and you're always amazed and thankful that they happen, but they never occur when you're up against a quota deadline. 

When I wrote the blog about luck a few months ago, my dedication to the formality of planning and, in fact, my addiction to "over-planning" was heightened by comments the blog received from a number of sales and business leaders that I have come to greatly admire over the years.

  • "One of my favorite sayings:   'you create your own luck' ”.
    Paul Frascoia, CEO
  • Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” a quote attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher. 
    Bob Flaherty, CEO
  • Your article reminds me of a quote from Jack Nicklaus.  Someone asked him how much luck played into winning a tournament.  He replied, "You know, it's funny.  The more I practice, the luckier I get." Arnie Greenfield, CTO
  • I'm not a big believer in getting lucky with sales. I am a big believer in good timing and sales. I suppose they might be similar in that a combination of skills plus high levels of activity will eventually lead to events that result from good timing. So not sure luck is involved when a prospect lives through an event that finally makes them think about your solution. To me it's more about good timing resulting from skillful relationship building combined with high levels of activity, leading to "hey, thanks for the call, we were just thinking about you", type of good timing responses.   
    Ray Bixler, CEO
  • Two comments came to mind while reading this post: 
    1 - Hope is not a strategy
    2 - luck is where preparedness meets opportunity. 
    Art Brault, VP Sales.
  • Luck does come in to play in a major way in sales, as in a group of factors that you have no control over. How you sell lets you control how much of an effect luck has on the outcome.
    (1) Cold calling- all luck, just a numbers game
    (2) Consultative selling increases the odds dramatically of the Luck being good.   
    Rob Turbett, CEO
  • Years ago, a fairly close friend told me that my success and good fortune in life had come from my being “lucky.” I responded that no one is simply lucky and that you have to put yourself in the path of luck, in order to benefit from it if/when it comes and that you cannot sit around and wait for the phone to ring or for luck to happen.
    Jack Gaziano, SVP
  • For 17 years I passed a stained glass window in the old H.J. Heinz HQ building in the Northside of Pittsburgh. The words: Luck helps you over the ditch if you jump well. True in late 1800s. True today. Tom Powell, CEO
  • Jack, I recently gave a talk at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Las Vegas. The title was “The Accidental Strategist” (you were mentioned a few times!) and my opening slide was “Great Thoughts on Luck”
    -“The harder I work the luckier I get” – Samuel Goldwyn
    -“Luck is the residue of design” – John Milton
    -“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca
    Jeff Somple, President 

All very powerful reminders as we now move relentlessly down the field, play-by-play, with the clock ticking away the 22 days, setting ourselves and our team up to drive across the goal line.  

As the book, Hope is not a Strategy, (a very worthwhile read, btw), points out, take the words "hope" and "luck" totally out of your vocabulary, especially now.

At this time of year, success is now all about you during these last 22 days of the selling season 


Good Selling Today!  



Finally, as you move through your own 2016 Sales Planning process at this time of year, if you have specific planning questions that you want to bounce off me or the other Derby Management Coaches regarding sales plans, sales comp programs, sales tools, or any part of the sales and marketing funnels, just email me, and we can set up a time to talk with me or any of our other heavily experienced Coaches.  There's no cost, of course, for a call.

Selling today is complex enough without trying to go through this process of account, organizational and compensation planning by yourself. Just give us a call.  



 TUFTS University Marketing Projects

I'm in my third week of continuing to look for new solid marketing projects for my spring Tufts marketing class at Tufts, where I'm a professor.  A unique and highly successful opportunity for your company to wring out a new product idea or a fully developed marketing plan with Tufts' Best & Brightest from one of the leading universities in the country.  This semester-long program is designed to incorporate marketing projects from companies ranging in size from venture-funded startups to divisions of major corporations.  This current semester, we had 22 companies apply for the six positions.
The deadline for submissions for this spring's semester is December 15th.  Projects will be sent to the students for assessment and team creation at the end of December.   

If you're interested in finding out more, just email me at  Of course, I'm biased and, yes, more than a bit passionate about Tufts, but I must say somewhat objectively that our results, as attested to buy our customer companies, have been outstanding with many companies coming back year after year and hiring our seniors to be part of their companies.



Head Coach  

Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
-Business & Strategy Planning Specialists
-Senior Management Coaching for CEOs & VPs

Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222 




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Tags: sales coaching, sales, sales coach, sales tools, selling, closing sales, Sales quota, sales training, sales plans

What You Need to Know About Hiring Sales Warriors

Posted by Jack Derby on Sat, Nov 14, 2015

First, no apologies about the term, "Sales Warriors" since some may not feel that it is not politically correct.  
In fact, I did learn long ago that this wonderful profession of Sales is not about "doing battle".  It's not about negotiation or manipulation or trying to outwit the person on the other side of the table.  It's no longer about "good-old-boy" relationships

The true excitement about Sales today is the realization finally that the real job of all of us as sales warriors is not to do battle, but to deliver to our customers one simple word:  "VALUE".  And, the other equally important realization that if I cannot provide true and long-lasting VALUE to those new prospects and existing customers, then I'm going to ultimately totally fail in my job.  

But, of course, warriors do not fail !

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Tags: sales, sales management, sales plans, sales hiring

I have The Very Best Students for Sales & Marketing Hires

Posted by Jack Derby on Fri, Nov 06, 2015

Every time I actually think about the fact that I'm a Professor of the Practice at Tufts, where I teach Marketing and Sales, I need to stop, take a breath and realize that I have the best of all possible jobs.  

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Tags: sales, sales management coach, sales plans, business planning

5 More Rules for the Best 2016 Sales Planning Meetings

Posted by Jack Derby on Wed, Oct 28, 2015

Thanks very much for the comments and ideas from last week's blog post on "The (first) Five Rules".  As promised, here are the remaining five.  It may well be that you have your own, so let me and our readers know about your ideas by commenting below...

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Tags: sales coaching, sales coach, sales tools, sales plans, business planning, business plans, sales planning meetings

5 Rules to Run the Best 2016 Business Planning Sessions

Posted by Jack Derby on Fri, Oct 16, 2015

'Tis the Season...

Well, not really THE season, but it is...

The Business Planning Season for working on, discussing, talking through, arguing about and spreadsheeting over and over again various strategic business plans, tactical department plans and the ever-important sales and marketing activity plans.  

Ultimately, every sales account plan, every marketing strategy and activity plan, every hiring plan, financial plan and product development plan will roll up to be your company's 2016 business plan.  Perfect in its creation and, somewhat by definition of what it is-a plan after all-flawed in its forecasted end points.  My own rule of thumb is that if the plan was met perfectly an entire 12-14 months later from its creation, then the management team probably didn't stretch themselves far enough.

Another good concept to carry into this business and sales planning season are the quotes from Eisenhower and Patton who both noted that the planning process itself is much more important than the actual plan that results

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Tags: business planning

How to Write a Winning Business Plan

Posted by Jack Derby on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

Superb weekend last weekend and clearly fall is in the air!  

The Corvette took me out for a drive to Vermont the weekend before, and the back roads were already packed with buses from Indiana and Ohio filled with Leaf-Peepers.  This is the season when The Boys on the Bench down at the Winhall General Store in the town where I live (population 647) are thinking long and hard about how to squeeze in their deer hunting trips before the first sightings of the New York City and Jersey skiers appear with their long lists of well-paying jobs that need to be done the hill opens at Thanksgiving.  

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Tags: sales planning, business planning, strategic planning

Don't Sell Anything...Focus on Creating Happiness...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby on Thu, Sep 24, 2015

Over the years as a student of the profession of Sales, i've been trained in...

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Tags: sales

22 Tips for More Sales Productivity...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby on Thu, Sep 17, 2015

This summer proved to be a test of my Sales & Marketing studying abilities...and, I think that I just may have passed the test

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Tags: sales

How to Ask Life & Death Questions...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby on Wed, Sep 09, 2015

Earlier this year, I underwent open heart surgery.  What did I know beforehand?  Not much, I found out

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Tags: sales